As a resident of Decatur, I’m accustomed to the good work of the people behind The Pinewood. Those folks have several quality spots around town, including Mercury at Ponce City Market. My wife loves to stroll around PCM, and I sometimes end up holding her bag and looking for a place to camp out while she does her thing. Crowds make me crabby after awhile, no matter how delicious or how happening the spot. Finally, I have found my preferred retreat: Deep End, at the corner of Glen Iris and North Avenue, right across the street from PCM.
A two-minute walk is all it takes to arrive at decent tacos and excellent cocktails, minus the well-groomed and carefully curated chaos nearby. They open at noon on weekends and 5pm on weekdays, not closing until 2am on any day except Sunday, when they close at midnight. Anytime is a great time for tacos, right? With those hours, I bet a lot of people who work at PCM consider this a perfect late night spot to escape their own customers. In the afternoon, it offers a spacious, breezy patio with some good conversation from amusing strangers and excellent people watching. In the early evening, the neon kicks on and the cavernous warehouse vibe inside takes on bright pink and blue tones that will make you wonder if you’ve stumbled onto the set of Miami Vice.
For seven bucks, you can snack on chips and salsa, or queso or guacamole. For twelve bucks, you can snack on all three. The chips aren’t greasy but they do pack plenty of salt. The salsa and gauc were creamy and flavorful, but I wasn’t that into the queso until I threw in an extra three bucks to add chorizo. There are eight tacos on the menu, all priced at four bucks a pop. Most people can get fed on twelve bucks. The ground beef gringo will satisfy your least adventurous friend who thinks Taco Bell is proper Tex-Mex. The el pastor taco goes heavy on pineapple and cilantro with refreshing results. Get the mahi mahi taco if you’re into a good slaw topping. For my money, the chicken tinga taco had the best spice—plenty seasoned but hot enough to keep you reaching for your beverage regularly. Or if you prefer seafood, the shrimp taco uses the same solid chipotle sauce as the chicken tinga taco.
If you like sugar at the end of your meal, Deep End’s churros are top notch. The outside has an excellent crunch without succumbing to greasiness, and the inside is plenty dense without succumbing to squishiness. The cinnamon sugar was in good proportion and more of it will get into your mouth than on your hands. The accompanying chocolate sauce is a bit runny to be dunking at arm’s length across the table. If you’re going to share, it’ll be a race to get to your mouth without dripping, but the flavor of the sauce itself was nice and sweet and it did not overwhelm the pastry’s own taste
The real glory of the place of course resides in its bank of slushy machines, which dispense four varieties of frozen cocktails. For nine bucks, you can get rum, vodka, gin or sparkling wine in colorful island combos that go into color-changing plastic cups—all the rage in Atlanta now, thanks to the hot pink ones proliferated by Bon Ton. The best and prettiest slushy is the Malibu Sands: rum, pineapple, coconut, orange, nutmeg. They also have more traditional cocktails, including a margarita that isn’t too tangy, and some decent bourbon or wine options. The most expensive beer is a seven dollar local draft and the cheapest is a four dollar can of High Life, which the menu charmingly describes as “non-artisanal and super American.”
Deep End is not fussy or expensive. It is not too loud or overcrowded. Its menu is serviceable and its drinks are transportive. Its staff is friendly without hovering. It runs day and night, indoors and outdoors. This is a great spot to unwind from too much work or too much leisure, brought to you by restauranteurs that Atlanta trusts to do things right without trying too hard.
Deep End is located at 621 North Ave. in the Old Fourth Ward. For more information, visit 10apart.com/deep-end/.